Kuula is a free 360° photo sharing platform and, in this moment, is the leader in this sector.

This platform allows also to create interactive virtual tours and it is also possible to upload regular photos, in addition to 360s.

All the basic functions are free for everyone (photo upload, sharing, various settings), but more features, including Virtual Tours, custom logo, hotspots, Google Analytics, can be unlocked with Pro or Business plan. I'll show you them in this article.

Kuula is a bit like an instagram of 360 photos. Everyone can have a free "basic" account on which you can upload 360 photos (but also normal photos) with a maximum size of about 16000x8000 in jpeg/png/gif format. It is possible to upload up to 100 photos per month. There is not a maximum limit of photos in total, but there is a limit of 100 photos per month, which is still a fairly high limit.

Obviously, there's no limits with Pro/Business plan.

In the Homepage you can see the featured photo of the week and, through the menu on top left, it is possible to interact with the website.
Opening "Explore", you'll see all the past featured photos (and believe me, they're amazing) and you'll be able to search for users or tags (#city #nature #italy etc).
You can sign in with facebook which is really easy and comfortable, but you'll need to add other infos if you'll be interested in Business plan.

Each photo has its own description that contains title, description and hashtags.

I'm not very fan of this thing because the hashtags could be put in a separate section, maybe so you can select the ones used recently. It's not that hard to copy and paste from an already uploaded photo, but if you have to change or add something, you must write everything by hand.

For free accounts there is the possibility to set the photo public or save it as a draft because the "unlisted" function is only available for those who have kuula Pro or Business.

For each 360° photo it is possible to add stickers among those offered by kuula, normal photos and text.

The text is very customizable. It can be in 2D, 3D, with background or without background, you can decide the color of the text and the color of the background, and you can choose size, font, rotation and opacity.

This is a veeery good thing. Your own tour, but also a single picture, can be personalized as you want.

And then there are the hotspots (the ones I usually call triggers) which are the interactive elements whose function can be decided according to the needing.

It is possible to upload an own icon for the hotspot or to use one of kuula's. This is very important for the creation of virtual tours, especially for those who do not intend to create simple tours. The customization of the icons gives us a lot of possibilities and allows to create games, interactive entertainment and much more.
It is possible to set the custom size of the icon, its rotation, opacity, set it in 2D/3D or "on the floor" and aldo add text to identify it (if necessary, and the text is customizable as the normal text). It is also possible to make the text appear only of  the mouse is on the hotspot.

Each hotspot can have different settings:

It may have no action (leaving the icon without any function, which can be added later).

"Go To Another Post" function, used to switch to another photo. This is a very special function as it is possible to connect a photo from a Virtual Tour, to another photo belonging to another Virtual Tour. In this way it is possible to create a network of Tours whose parts can be modified and/or added separately without having to modify the entire structure.

"Open Link" function, which simply opens a link in a new window.

"Play Sound" function, which plays a user-uploaded MP3 audio file. Max audio file size is 5MB limit (previously it was 2MB). Unfortunately, there'e is no interaction with the audio because the trigger has only the Play/Stop function and, consequently, every time the trigger is used, the song is being stopped and it starts again. Maybe Pause function could be interesting.

The only different interaction with the audio is when it is inserted in the virtual tour. It can be muted or left in play in background. You can not set audio levels or pause.

"Card" is the best function ever since it allows you to add media to the photo, but not only.

It's composed by 4 parts, all optional, and may contain media, text, link and the link title.

Here kuula worked very well ! In the media section you can insert a link that can be almost anything. It can be a YouTube video, a photo, but it can also be an HTML iframe or Javascript code. Of those used to embed something on a site. And this is awesome because it is possible to add everything, literally.

This feature allows to insert a Virtual Tour (or even a single 360 photo) inside another photo (part of another Tour or not).

In short, a Tour inside a Tour. Inception who?

kuula hotspot embed 3
kuula hotspot embed 1
kuula hotspot embed 2

Here there's an example of a Virtual Tour embedded into a 360° photo.

In addition to this there is the possibility to add the flare deciding its shape, add filters and decide their intensity, decide the initial zoom of the photos and the degrees of the vertical aperture of the photo, ie the possibility or not to look up and down.

For 360° photos there is also the tiny planet effect with the possibility to set the initial view and whether to use the tiny planet as thumbnail or not.

In truth this function is also enabled for normal photos. I do not know why since it is completely useless to look at the "normal" photos in tiny planet, but it can be done.

Virtual Tours

Subscribing to a PRO or a BUSINESS plan, it'll be possible to create Virtual Tours on kuula.

It's very easy and kuula gives an automatic Batch Upload for Tour creations. During the upload it is possible to rename the pictures and set some General settings, such as Background Audio, Tour Privacy (Public,Unlisted,Protected with Password, Private), Transition type (crossfade, zoon, radial etc) and enable or not the Walkthrough, which is highly recommended for internal Virtual Tours, but also when you need a more natural and smooth switch between photos.

After have uploaded all the photos, it'll be possible to edit them one by one adding various effects and hotspots. The hotspots, obviously, are necessary to create the Virtual Tours as they're the only way to connect the pictures. The icons, as I written before, are customizable, you just have to see all the photos and connect them to each other. For this, kuula added a particular and very useful feature called "Automatic backlink". When you put a hotspot connecting a photo to another one, it automatically creates a hotspot on the second photo linking it to the previous one. In this way there's an automatic way back in the tour. Sometimes you just have to adjust the position of the hotspot, but it depends on the original orientation of the photos.

And everything is very easy and user friendly.
The user has an only limit for creating Virtual Tours on kuula : the own imagination.

After uploading, there is the sharing and analytics section because kuula  is very close to a kind of social network.

There are followers, followed, likes, comments, there is a home where you can scroll up and down to look at the various photos, there is the search through the hashtags, you can watch featured contents or those with more likes, you can see normal photos or tours, in short there are many search filters to allow the user find what he is looking for, what he wants to see.

The sharing section allows to share immediately after uploading the photo on facebook, twitter and reddit. You can take a snapshot of the photo or there is a link for direct sharing. Having a Business plan, it'll be possible to have an own personalized link instead of using kuula's one.

And then there's the embedding section which is why I prefer kuula to other 360 platforms. The embedding allows you to insert the photo or the tour in a website using javascript or HTML, and even here there is a lot of customization. You can set the height and width of the window, enable or disable the fullscreen button, enable or disable the zoom, enable or not the automatic rotation and the rotation direction, enable or not the gyroscope on mobile, HUD and its position. All this in the free version. In this case there will always be the kuula logo in a corner somewhere, because even the position of the logo can be decided by the user (and its size can be reduced so that it is not intrusive).

Who will subscribe to a kuula PRO or BUSINESS plan, instead, will be able to add an own logo or leave photos without a logo. Plus, it is possible to set the Optimization choosing between the load speed and image quality. This will determine the speed of pics opening. And, being a Pro/Business user it'll be possible to enable or disable VR view.

But, obviously, not everything is perfect.

I feel the absence of an app to watch and upload your 360 content. kuula on mobile browser works well, but it is always a browser. The speed of scrolling in the browser is really embarrassing and, above all, the visitors who look at the contents from mobile, do not have the possibility to disable the gyroscope. As a result, every time the phone moves, the image also moves.

And actually....this is the only negative point. Relatively negative.

After some their updates, they divided Tours from normal Photos. At the beginning all the photos were together (being part of a tour or not), but now if you directly create a Virtual Tour, the photos which are part of that tour are not displayed between single photos. This is awesome. Personally I really appreciated this and now we can have a clean profile also watching at it "from inside". (Otherwise, having a tour with 20 photos, for example, we had all the photos between the normal ones creating confusion)

And now...the killer-feature that every single person using this platform will appreciate : Level Correction.
This....is....one of the best things ever.

A lot of times, for a user mistake or because the camera doesn't have the automatic horizon levelling (like GoPro MAX, at least until the end of 2019) the pics are just tilted. And, beside being very bothering for who il watching, if the photo would be opened in VR using a headset, it'd be frustrating. kuula gave us a simple, easy and fast solution which can be used to fix the levelling. It shows a cube grid which helps with vertical and horizontal lines and it is possible to level all the photos in few seconds.

Kuula PRO & Kuula BUSINESS

If you're an occasional photographer, you can even skip this part. You can upload your photos for free and share them everywhere.

But if you're working with 360 Tours, if you're planning to create interactive experiences for your users or your customers, you'll probably need it.

PRO plan allows you to create virtual tours, there's no limit of upload, you can put your own logo on the photos, set them Unlisted or Private, abilitate VR, set the optimization for the embedding and more. It's $ 12 per month which, compared to other platforms, is a very low price and gives you a lot of advantages. Also, sometimes, there are discounts on the Pro plan with which you can pay it even less.

Business plan contains all the features of Basic and PRO, but gives you more : first of all, Google Analytics. It is possible to connect your kuula account to Google Analytics and have a complete report about your visitors : viewed pages, numbers, regions, devices, views in days and hours and more. This is one of the most important features of BUSINESS plan. The other most important feature is the custom domain link. Instead of using "kuula.co/share/...." it'll be "yourbrandname.viewin360.co/share/....". This is very interesting for Real Estate agents, for who create professional virtual tours and embed them into websites etc. Plus, there's the possibility to set the tours "Password protected" so they can be watched only from who has the password, and more.

This plan is very interesting for more professional companies and advanced tour creators.

In my opinion Kuula has a lot of potential. It's already the n°1 360 platform for 360 photo sharing. It's Ben Claremont's platform of choice for Virtual Tour Pro. It grows continuously and the developers are adding new stuff to it. The user has a loooot of customization and it is possible to create almost everything in the way the user wants. This is very important for those with special projects in mind.
Does it worth it ?
Do I have to answer this question after this article ? ;)

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